I initially put this as a comment on yesterday’s post of “Hey Library! You’re Now in the Marketing Department!!“, but thought it actually deserves its own posting.
I’ve had some “off-line” conversations with other law librarians at big firms and there is a question that has been raised whether the people that have run the law libraries at firms over the past 15-20 years (basically the baby-boomers that are about to retire) have screwed the law library field (add in the law library associations to this, too).
Whenever the law library gets progressive and starts promoting new ideas, those ideas get spun off into their own departments and the creative law librarians leave the library field to join these departments. Things like Knowledge Management, Competitive Intelligence, and even some Marketing and IT ideas that were created in the library now exist outside the library. So it seems that the general direction the law firm libraries have taken in the past 15-20 years is to get us back to what we were doing in the 1980’s.
In the past 15-20 years when the law firm IT and Marketing departments carved themselves out “C-Level” positions, what were those running the libraries doing?? Law Library departments got passed up and never got included in the “C-Party” and now we are having issues of where do we fit on the company ladder when we don’t have that C-Level person. Perhaps the biggest injustice was that we allowed the IT department to claim the title of “Information Officer”, when it usually isn’t “Information” they are in charge of, but rather “Technology”. If the law library isn’t the “Information” center, then what is it?? Now the law library gets moved under some other department, many times run by someone with no clue on how a law library operates, solely because there is no other place to the library on the firm’s org chart.
Moves like the one MoFo did to push the law library under marketing, coupled with the fact that many seem to be okay with the move, shows that the law library has fallen a great deal in stature under its existing leadership. I’m tired of hearing that I have to move away from the library and into Knowledge Management or Marketing or IT in order to succeed. It is time for those of us in the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ generations who are about to take the reins of the law library field to reevaluate what the law library does. It is time to stop spinning off all of our great accomplishments and letting others take credit for what we’ve created. It is time to change the way the law library is run and viewed by those with whom we work. To steal a certain political party line, it is time for those coming into library management to come up with a type of law library that allows us to declare:
“This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Law Library!”